Vandals hit Rifle shelter, take pit bull pups

Colt, one of two pit bull puppies stolen from the Rifle Animal Shelter. He has since been located.



Beretta, one of two pit bull puppies stolen from the Rifle Animal Shelter.



QUICKREAD

Rewards offered for the scoop on puppies

The Rifle Animal Shelter is offering a $500 reward for information in the theft of two pit bull puppies. Garfield County Crime Stoppers is offering $1,000 leading to an arrest or indictment.

The animals are light brindle and white. Both were wearing NASCAR collars. Colt has a white head and blue eyes, and Beretta has a brindle and white head and green eyes.

Anyone with information may contact the shelter at 970-625-8808 or Crime Stoppers at 970-945-0101. Crime Stoppers welcomes and rewards anonymous tips.



Pit bull puppies Colt and Beretta came from a good home and were headed for others. Now, their fates are unknown after they were stolen from the Rifle Animal Shelter.

The Garfield County Sheriff’s Department on Monday released a description of a suspect in the case, but sheriff’s spokeswoman Tanny McGinnis declined to say how the person came to be a suspect, saying she didn’t want to jeopardize the investigation. The suspect is described as a thin male with olive skin, 5 feet 10 inches to 6 feet tall, with an Afro hairstyle.

Shelter manager Heather Mullen said other thieves may have been involved. She said they broke a window to get to the puppies Friday night.

“They definitely knew what they were coming for, I feel. They came for those puppies, that’s what they wanted, and then they left,” she said.

The nonprofit shelter also was vandalized with spray paint, said McGinnis, and Mullen said that inside “there was stuff everywhere.” Neither would comment on reports that gang symbols may have been painted on the building.

Investigators say damage totaled $2,000.

The male blue-nosed pit bulls were 10 to 12 weeks old, Mullen said.

“They were absolutely adorable. They were very cute pit bulls,” she said.

She said they had been surrendered to the shelter by someone who had taken good care of them, and both had been adopted by new owners but were awaiting neutering.

Mullen said the shelter doesn’t know of anyone who wanted the puppies and couldn’t afford them or was upset that they already had been adopted. She believes the thieves saw the pit bulls online or while driving by. She said they may have wanted the animals for breeding, fighting or to sell.

“With this breed of dog we don’t know what their intention is and what could be happening to (the pit bulls) right now,” Mullen said.

Mullen said the shelter never has had a similar incident in its 30-plus-year history.

“We’re all blown away by it,” she said.

The shelter also is worried about the security of its other dogs.

“We come in every morning and wonder did something else get stolen, are they going to do it again,” she said.


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